DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10th, 7:05 p.m. (pst)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Titan Gym (4,000) -- Fullerton, California. Television: Local. Home Record: Cal Poly 4-2, Fullerton 5-1. Away Record: Cal Poly 1-5, Fullerton 3-3. Neutral Record: Cal Poly 1-1, Fullerton 1-0. Conference Record: Cal Poly 1-1, Fullerton 2-0. Series Record: Cal Poly leads, 29-16.
GAME NOTES: Cal State Fullerton tries to remain undefeated in Big West Conference play tonight as the squad hosts the Cal Poly Mustangs at Titan Gym. After losing to Saint Mary's by a final of 69-59 on the road back on December 29th, the Titans picked up back-to-back league victories. The first was a 93-83 triumph over UC Irvine at home, followed more recently by a 77-47 blowout of UC Riverside on the road on Monday night. As for the Mustangs, who have not won back-to-back games since the middle of November, they snapped a three-game slide on Saturday with a 64-52 triumph over Long Beach State at home. The win evened the team's league record at 1-1 after losing to Cal State Northridge two nights earlier by a score of 80-59. In terms of the all-time series between these two programs, Cal Poly won two of the three meetings a season ago, including the most recent during the conference tournament, 81-56. As a result, the Mustangs are now ahead in the relationship by a count of 29-16.
Shooting just 3-of-15 behind the arc and 40 percent from the field overall on Saturday in Mott Gym, the Mustangs needed and got a lift from reserve Lorenzo Keeler who accounted for a team-best 14 points in 20 minutes. Chaz Thomas and Dawin Whiten both contributed 11 points, the former picking up six steals along the way as well. Titus Shelton chipped in 10 points in 37 minutes of work. Cal Poly is far from a menacing offensive force this season, averaging just 63.1 ppg on 38.6 percent shooting from the field. If hitting 29 percent beyond the arc and 63.3 percent at the free-throw line weren't bad enough, the squad doesn't have a single double-digit scorer to lean on at the moment, with Trae Clark coming the closest with his 9.3 ppg. A starter in just two games, Keeler has boosted his number to 9.2 ppg on only 35.6 percent from the floor.
Desperate to get back into contention, UC Riverside missed all 11 attempts from three-point range in the second half on Monday night, going 3-of-20 beyond the arc overall in the 30-point setback. That scoring margin for Fullerton was supplied solely by Josh Akognon who made good on not only 10- of-16 from the field, but also 7-of-11 out on the perimeter. Scott Cutley and Frank Robinson contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively, the former also clearing 11 rebounds. Akognon, who has gone for at least 30 points three times this season, is making 44.4 percent from three-point range and is responsible for a team-best 20.8 ppg. Robinson checks in with 16.2 ppg and is one of three who is picking up at least six boards per outing. Cutley (13.3 ppg) is tops on the glass with almost seven per game, but that still doesn't disguise the fact that he is just 49 percent at the charity stripe. If nothing else, the Titans still have to be thinking about the devastating loss to Cal Poly in the Big West Tournament a season ago, which is more than enough reason to think Fullerton will pour it on tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal State Fullerton 85, Cal Poly 71